The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Mizuno Wave Kazan Review

A good scorer in our metrics, this model combines a lot of the best features of a top shoe.
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Price:  $120 List | $96.20 at Amazon
Pros:  Light, stable, and comfortable, wide in the forefoot
Cons:  Doesn’t shed water well, upper laminate creases oddly
Manufacturer:   Mizuno
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 30, 2015
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The Skinny

The Mizuno Wave Kazan strikes a great balance between all of our scoring metrics we believe make up a great shoe. Mizuno says that the inspiration for the Wave Kazan comes from the "Samurai battle standard of 'Furin Kazan' meaning 'move as swift as the wind, stay as silent as the forest, attack as fierce as fire, and be as undefeatable as the mountain.'" Those are lofty standards to aspire to, but in the case of the Wave Kazan, they may have actually hit their high mark. This is a fantastic all-around shoe that perfectly fits the bill of doing everything well, features durable construction, and all at a surprisingly light weight, making it one of the highest ranking shoes in our review.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Mizuno Wave Kazan is one of the most stable shoes that we tried, mostly due to its very wide and flat toe box that serves as a fantastic landing platform. Mizuno claims that its x-pattern midsole allows the shoe to pivot over obstacles on both a forward-backward and side-to-side axis, and we would have to agree that this helps stabilize the foot over uneven terrain. On a myriad of runs over uneven and rocky terrain, we never once approached an ankle roll or experienced foot slippage in the shoe. It is also remarkable that the shoe feels low to the ground because it actually packs a 12mm heel-toe drop, giving a ton of cushioning where it's needed. Overall we felt the performance of this shoe was very good and the Wave Kazan was money well spent.

Performance Comparison


The x-patterned sole of the Wave Kazan gives great torsional flexibility  allowing it to bend over and around rocks or other obstacles and making it very stable for landing.
The x-patterned sole of the Wave Kazan gives great torsional flexibility, allowing it to bend over and around rocks or other obstacles and making it very stable for landing.

Foot Protection


This product strikes perhaps the most perfect balance of any shoe in the review between adequate protection and adequate sensitivity. This model takes the opposite approach to achieving good balance than the Saucony Peregrine 5; it has good enough protection with great sensitivity, where the Peregrine 5 is very protective with some sensitivity. The shoe lacks a rockplate, but the 12mm heel-toe drop promises plenty of cushioning under the heel for long descents. Additionally, the upper features a light and clear laminate over the fabric material that protects the foot well.

The sole of the Wave Kazan. The gap between forefoot and heel allows great torsional flex  while the x-pattern in the forefoot molds around obstacles.
The sole of the Wave Kazan. The gap between forefoot and heel allows great torsional flex, while the x-pattern in the forefoot molds around obstacles.

Traction


The outsole of this shoe features hard yet very sticky rubber patterned with large flower-shaped lugs. We found that the lugs gave us great traction in mud and dirt while also managing to avoid any excess buildup. The rubber grips rocks as well as any shoe we tried. Our only complaint is that the sole is made of many different pieces and leaves some midsole foam exposed to wear and tear.

Stability


This shoe is one of the most stable that we tried, which surprised us. We figured that the large heel-toe drop of 12mm would lend itself to being tipsy, but the wide forefoot creates a great landing platform. This shoe feels far more stable than ones with comparably large drop, like the Salomon Speedcross 4.

Comfort

The clear laminate on the Wave Kazan offers good structural support and sidewall protection  but creases up oddly when the shoe bends.
The clear laminate on the Wave Kazan offers good structural support and sidewall protection, but creases up oddly when the shoe bends.
The seamless upper and wide forefoot design make the Kazan very comfortable. It was perhaps the widest shoe in our review, comparable to the Altra Superior 3.5, so if you have a wide foot, this is certainly one we would recommend trying first. Mizuno claims that the x-patterned midsole allows the forefoot and heel to move independently to adapt to uneven terrain, while the cradle holds the foot in place. We would have to agree that whatever Mizuno is doing, works! The ride is as smooth as they come. Our only comfort related complaints were that the shoe doesn't shed water as well as some others, and that a clear plastic laminate which undoubtedly lends protection and durability to the upper happens to crease up in weird ways when the shoe is bending, especially on the downhill. We wouldn't call this anomaly uncomfortable, just odd.

Weight


For all that this shoe gives, it is quite light, which we loved! While not as light as the lightest models we tested, it was lighter than virtually all the other traditional style shoes. Our pair of size 11 shoes weighed in at an impressive 22.0 ounces.

Sensitivity


As we mentioned above, the Mizuno Wave Kazan strikes a fantastic balance between underfoot protection and sensitivity. You will certainly feel the trail in this shoe, but in a good way, with the comfort of knowing that you can miss a step here or there without damaging your foot. This was the most sensitive traditional shoe that we tried, scoring only slightly lower than The North Face Ultra Trail and the La Sportiva Helios.

Best Applications


Mizuno claims this shoe is meant for everything, and we would have to agree. We would even suggest that it performs well on the road, should you need to hit the tarmac on the way to and from the trails.

Cody Braford loves living in Silverton and loves running long distances. Here he tries out the Wave Kazan and gives them two thumbs up!
Cody Braford loves living in Silverton and loves running long distances. Here he tries out the Wave Kazan and gives them two thumbs up!

Value


At $120, this shoe fits right in the middle of the price scale, and is comparably priced to most of the shoes we reviewed. Seeing as how it is one our favorites, we think it is an excellent value for the price.

Mizuno claims the Wave Kazan's design is patterned after topography. We liked them enough that they scored in our top five.
Mizuno claims the Wave Kazan's design is patterned after topography. We liked them enough that they scored in our top five.

Conclusion


Simply put, this is one of the very best shoes that we tried, and shows an incredible amount of thought and care to fine-tune a shoe this precisely. If you are looking for a precision piece of footwear at the same price as virtually every other shoe on the market, then this is the one for you.
Kroger's Canteen is an aid station at the top of Virginius Pass on the Hardrock Hundred course. With steep rocks  scree  and snowfields on each side of the pass  it is not an easy place to reach. The Wave Kazan are the perfect shoe for this kind of terrain.
Kroger's Canteen is an aid station at the top of Virginius Pass on the Hardrock Hundred course. With steep rocks, scree, and snowfields on each side of the pass, it is not an easy place to reach. The Wave Kazan are the perfect shoe for this kind of terrain.


Andy Wellman